Al Qaeda no longer possesses the ability to put up a command and control structure to launch a 9/11-type strike but the US still needs to go after the outfit and maintain the "pressure" on it, defence secretary Leon Panetta has said.
"It doesn't have the ability to put command and control together to make the kind of plans for the kind of attacks we saw on 9/11," Panetta said on Friday at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.
"Al Qaeda, the enemy that attacked this country on 9/11, that made the war on terrorism something that all of us were committed to fight -- we have significantly impacted on al Qaeda. Its leadership is decimated," Panetta said.
Noting that the US has successfully gone after the al Qaeda leadership, not only Osama bin Laden but other top commanders as well, the Defense Secretary emphasised the need to continue that pressure.
"We need to keep going after them wherever they go, whether it's Yemen or Somalia or North Africa. We need to continue the pressure on them. But we are -- we are working to significantly weaken their capability. We've been good at it," he said.
In Afghanistan, "we are making good progress there in transitioning as well to Afghan control and security, and we remain committed to making sure that happens," he said.
In Libya, Panetta said, the US had a successful NATO mission that helped bring down Muammar Gaddafi and return Libya to its people.
"We're at a turning point. After 10 years of war, we now have to be able to make that turn as we head into the future. We're at a point, as you know, where the Iraq mission was brought to an end, and it's now clearly up to the Iraqi people, to the Iraqi leaders to make sure they stay on the right track.
"That was the whole point of the mission -- to make Iraq be able to govern and secure itself," Panetta said.